Planting ‘in the green,’ pruning back and sowing seeds
Updated: Feb 3
In spite of the cold, with the days noticeably lengthening and hopefully brighter, February in the garden is a time to be inspired by ever greater birdsong and early flowering bulbs, such as the crocuses which signal the transition to spring at the end of the month.
We’re most fortunate to have a woodland area brightened by snowdrops and winter aconites at this time of the year. Yet once they finish flowering, we make sure to lift and split some of the denser clumps for replanting ‘in the green’ elsewhere in lightly shaded spots, so as to increase their coverage in years to come. If you’re looking to grow your own, then it’s a good idea to purchase them in this state from a specialist nursery to ensure greater success.
Now is also the time to tidy the ornamental borders by trimming back the dead stems of herbaceous perennials and grasses that have been left over winter, to clear the way for new shoots. If need be, every few years or so it's beneficial to revitalise congested perennials by lifting and dividing them, as the new foliage emerges, to make vigorous new plants. If you’re looking to fill some gaps and brighten things up in your spring border it's effective to add plants such as euphorbias, hellebores, heucheras, primulas or pulmonarias. Otherwise, take the opportunity to combine these by planting up an attractive seasonal container.
It’s also important to trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers to size, before the birds begin to build their nests. Wisteria side shoots can be cut back to three buds from the base, to encourage greater flowering in spring. Buddleja and elder can be pruned back hard to keep them under control. Whilst winter flowering shrubs such as mahonia, winter jasmine and heathers can be pruned once they’ve finished flowering.
In the polytunnels we’re getting ready to start seed sowing by sorting and washing pots and trays. The tomatoes and chillies will probably go in first, warmed by the propagator to ensure reliable germination, ahead of faster growers like beans and courgettes, which can go in a little later. We’ll also be sowing our summer bedding and tender annuals such as antirrhinum, cosmos, sunflowers and sweet peas. And it’s time to get the potato tubers ordered so they can be chitted under cover, ahead of planting out in March or April.
All in all, it’s a very busy month!